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At a meeting, held Monday to present a report of the UN Secretary General

At a meeting, held Monday to present a report of the UN Secretary General on the current events in the country, Security Council members are of the opinion that the situation in the country is indeed very grim. Retracing recent events from the assassinations and the security concerns to the earthquake and the general economic malaise and institutional void, it is easy to conclude that the country is in a grip of generalized insecurity. The report describes a country that has seen numerous high-profile criminal cases but no efforts at full investigations and the perpetrators are hardly ever brought to justice. There’s a 5% increase in the number of intentional homicides reported to the police, 549 reported cases, 328 of which occurred in the first eight months of the year, as opposed to 234 cases for the whole of 2020. There is also noticeable displacement of some 19,000 people due to gang activity in such areas as Carrefour, Cité-Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, Delmas and Martissant, all in the capital city. Despite these mounting statistics, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), Helen Meagher La Lime, believe that there are “encouraging signs”. These so- called encouraging signs further confirm the UN representative’s conviction that the Haitian people are capable of resolving the structural challenges facing the nation, and that Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s desire to reach a political agreement in an inclusive and consensual climate will be conducive to holding long awaited general elections.

Ms. Meagher announced that general elections would take place towards the end of the year, stressing that the agreement reached by the Prime Minister with more than 150 political parties and civil society organizations, including old opposition groups, that are calling for the formation of a new electoral commission with the blessing and participation of the Diaspora. For the one-time Prime Minister and current Foreign Affairs Minister, Claude Joseph, if the UN is ready to renew the BINUH mandate in the country, they must take into consideration the new realities and adapt it accordingly to focus primarily on strengthening security and the fight against violence. The crises in the country are multi-dimensional and required equally multidimensional approaches to addressing them. The national police are at a crossroads because they are unable to confront the epidemic gun violence in the country. The country needs all the help it can get from the international community to address the security issue, and while the police are trying to address it, they simply do not have the resources to match the available material that the gangs have. The problem of insecurity is now an endemic problem in Port-au-Prince while kidnappings are on the rise and armed gangs have pretty much total control of the capital City.

While on the topic of security, a technical team from the US State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement unit is expected in the country this week, to help address the issue of increasing kidnappings in the country. This was announced by the Undersecretary of American Affairs, Brian Nichols, during a press conference last Friday. Mr. Nichols announced fruitful discussions with the leaders of the national police force and is looking forward to having detailed discussions on ways to address this very pressing and important crisis related to drugs and violence. The official also announced the arrival of two other American officials, the Undersecretaries of human rights, and civic affairs to discuss issues of security and justice. In a related news, heavily armed gangs in PNH uniforms, and using a Nissan Patrol car, kidnapped a pastor, Jean Mary Ferrer Michel, together with two other church members, Isabelle Devendegis and Norman Weiner, when the gangs barged into their church, the Église Jésus Center in Delmas 29 during Sunday service. This attack is the second one in a week when criminal gangs attacked a different church, killing the pastor and kidnapping and then releasing his wife. The level of insecurity has now reached a fever pitch that when calls for a march and general strike against violence when out for Monday saw very few people took to the streets. The call by transportation union to denounce what they consider the epidemic of violence was not heeded to as expected, but businesses and institutions were closed, while public transport was brought to a standstill. Though the organizers have mixed results, one of the organizers, Jacques Anderson Desroches called it a warning to the government that they are not going to continue to live in fear. The Protestant churches who also joined the strike echoed the sentiments of a people overwhelmed with the rising and uncontrollable violence.

Elsewhere, the fallout from the migrant issue continues with a second US official resigning in protest. Harold Koh, one of the rising stars in the legal profession and the justice department resigned in protest of the Biden Administration’s use of the contested Trump era public health law, known as Title 42 to apprehend thousands of Haitian migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, taking them into custody and fly them back to their troubled homeland, denying them an opportunity to make a claim to stay in the U.S. by seeking asylum. In his resignation letter, he denounced Title 42 as illegal and inhuman. He pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of rejecting Haitians and yet accepting Afghans.

Dela Harlley

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